San Dieco MTS Public Security Officers

USA: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has made changes to its security procedures in response to national concerns about law enforcement.

‘The significant social justice issues involving law enforcement all over the country have made us even more aware of how we want to engage with the community’, explained Monica Montgomery Steppe, Chair of the MTS Public Security Committee and San Diego City Council member.

MTS commissioned an outside peer review of its security practices which produced 65 recommendations for improvement. It also has hired former New York MTA Chief Al Stiehler as director of Security & Passenger Safety.

Changes that have been implemented include a revision of policies on the use of force, with the adoption of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ procedures designed to reduce the use of violence, a ban on carotid restraints and choke holds, and the introduction of a duty for security officers to intervene if they witness another employee using excessive force. A fare citation diversion programme aims to help people caught without a ticket avoid court fees and a criminal record.

New uniforms have been issued to the 64 Code Compliance Inspectors, with the traditional law enforcement dark blue replaced by light blue with a bright yellow upper body band so that passengers can easily identify staff if assistance is needed. The 158 contracted Transit System Security officers will also receive new uniforms this year.

‘Over the past year, MTS Security has been working diligently with the Public Security Committee to explore ways to better serve our customers by emphasising our role as ambassadors to our riders’, said Stiehler. ‘We have been adopting principles, guidelines and implementing policies to be of better service to our community, and the new uniforms align better with that approach.’